Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Seat targeted

What's the difference between Sandra Gidley and a fox?

One is a small, cunning, ginger creature being pursued in Hampshire by angry hunters keen to rid themselves of it in the name of bloodsports.

And the other's a fox.

Fox-hunting strategy could see battle for Gidley seat (Basingstoke Gazette, 29 September)
Romsey is on a hit-list of seats being targeted by fox-hunters.

Huntsmen and women are being urged to support candidates - mainly Tories - who will repeal a hunting ban.
[...]
Mrs Gidley's seat is being targeted because her majority is so slim - just 2,370 votes.

Four Hampshire hunts face the chop if a ban goes ahead.

The choice of seats is certain to provoke Liberal Democrat accusations that hunt supporters are acting as a wing of the Conservative party.
[...]
The election strategy was compiled by Jeremy Sweeney, a professional lobbyist, who has no political affiliations and does not hunt.

He believes it is possible for the hunt vote to influence the outcome in many seats in the same way as it swung opinion against Jackie Ballard, the former anti-hunt Liberal Democrat MP in Taunton, at the last election.

Romsey seat on hunt hit list (Romsey Advertiser - and others, 1 October)
Romsey MP Sandra Gidley could face a concerted effort by hunt supporters to unseat her at the next general election.

Campaigners plan to target the Romsey constituency as part of a bid to unseat anti-hunting MPs in marginal seats across England and Wales.

Campaigners angered by Government moves to ban hunting with hounds have drawn up a list of 50 rural constituencies which have strong hunting communities and an MP who voted for the ban.

According to The Times newspaper on Monday, the Romsey constituency is on the list.

Only constituencies where the MP has a majority of less than 10 per cent of the electorate have been put on the list.
[...]
Liberal Democrat Sandra Gidley has always voted for a ban.

With a majority of 2,370 votes, she could be vulnerable if large numbers of constituents are influenced by the planned pro-hunt campaign.

Mrs Gidley said she was not worried by her inclusion on the list. "We'll fight the election and people will judge it then," she said. "I'm just getting on with the job I do the best I can."

She said her constituency was only semi-rural. "I've had hundreds of letters asking me to support a ban but just over a dozen saying hunting should be allowed to continue."

Hunt enthusiasts should find an alternative to foxes, Mrs Gidley said. "Why does it have to be killing animals in a way that it's worn out and then ripped to bits?"

Mrs Gidley said other countryside issues were more important, such as rural poverty and lack of public transport in more remote areas.

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